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Levi Strauss & Co Water>Less

Challenge

Reduce the water footprint of jeans.

Problem

Levi Strauss conducted a cradle-to-grave analysis of their products and discovered a major impact was water. The company found that the lifecycle of a single pair of Levi® 501 jeans used more than 3,000 litres of water. Of that, 49% was used during the cotton-growing stage, 46% when customers washed their jeans and 6% during the manufacturing process.

Solution

Initially focussing on the production, the company combined water processing stages and sought to reduce water use wherever possible. The result was an average reduction of 28% with up to 96% possible for some styles.

In 2008 the company joined forces with other brands and retailers to form the better cotton initiative, in a bid to see more sustainable cotton grown around the world and to make global cotton production better for the people who produce it. The initiative seeks to reduce the use of pesticides, address water use and soil health, and improve labour standards. These measures were shown to increase profits for the farmers.

The company is also engaging consumers in reducing the water and energy used in cleaning their jeans. This includes new care tags encouraging consumers to wash their jeans less, and to wash in cold water and line dry. A contest to find a better way to line dry jeans was also launched.

Benefits

For 1.5 million pairs jeans (a selling season), roughly 16 million litres of water are saved
In 2010, farms taking part in a pilot in Pakistan reduced water consumption by around 30% –or 11.71 billion cubic metres
Novel branding for reduced impact jeans

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